Tag Archives: Pavlov

A Neurotic Dog’s Life: Experimental Psychiatry and the Conditional Reflex Method in the Work of W. Horsley Gantt

Horsley Gantt feeding dog, Gundy.

The June 2018 issue of Isis contains an article on the conditional reflex and experimental psychiatry that will interest AHP readers.

A Neurotic Dog’s Life: Experimental Psychiatry and the Conditional Reflex Method in the Work of W. Horsley Gantt,” by Edmund Ramsden. Abstract:

From the 1920s, inspired by the work of Ivan Pavlov, many American psychiatrists, physiologists, and psychologists turned to the animal laboratory. Focusing on the work of W. Horsley Gantt, this essay will explore the use of the conditional reflex method in the study of “experimental neurosis.” Concentrating on the interaction between thought and material operations in Gantt’s Pavlovian Laboratory, the essay will show how idiosyncratic emotional reactions and behaviors among experimental animals were used to address the issue of individuality in science, medicine, and society. It was through working with the dog that individuality was identified as an incessant problem that could be utilized in laboratory practice, as a necessary focus of psychiatric medicine, and as a means of defending science from excessive determinism and stereotyped thinking.

Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

The March 2015 issue of the journal History of Science is a special issue on “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China.” Guest edited by Howard Chiang (right), the issue includes several articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. Among these articles are ones on Pavlovianism during the Maoist era, the origins of zaolian (early love) as a form of juvenile delinquency, and debates over koro. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Editorial: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China,” by Howard Chiang. No abstract.

“Disciplining China with the scientific study of the state: Lu Zhengxiang and the Chinese Social and Political Science,” by John H. Feng. The abstract reads,

This paper discusses the Chinese Social and Political Science Association and its impact on China’s inclination to Wilsonianism. The CSPSA was founded in Beijing in 1915. Two primary supporters were Lu Zhengxiang (China’s Foreign Minister) and Paul S. Reinsch (American Minister to China during the Wilson administration). It chose English as its official language in order to have dialogues with American scholars. The CSPSA had strong interests in constitutionalism, international relations and international law. As it pondered how to discipline China, it demonstrated its inclination to the American scientific study of the state. Epistemologically, this led to the political converge between China and the US during the Great War.

“From palaeoanthropology in China to Chinese palaeoanthropology: Science, imperialism and nationalism in North China, 1920–1939,” by Hsiao-pei Yen. The abstract reads,

Before the establishment of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory (Xinshengdai yanjiushi) in 1929, paleoanthropological research in China was mainly in the hands of foreigners, individual explorers as well as organized teams. This paper describes the development of paleoanthropology in China in the 1920s and 1930s and its transformation from the international phase to an indigenized one. It focuses on the international elite scientist network in metropolitan Beijing whose activities and discoveries led to such transformation. The bond between members of the network was built on shared scientific devotion, joint field experience, and social activities. However, such scientific internationalism was not immune from imperialistic and nationalistic interests and competition as most members of the network also belonged to institutions of the dominant hegemonic powers, such as the French Paleontological Mission and the American Museum of Natural History, operating by the logic of international system of imperialism. While these foreign institutions enjoyed relatively unrestricted access to the Chinese frontier and Mongolia in the early 20th century to discover and collect for the establishment of what they saw as universal scientific knowledge, in the late 1920s rising Chinese and Mongolian nationalisms began to interpret these activities as violations to their national sovereignty. The idea of establishing a “Chinese” institute to carry out paleoanthropological research in China took shape in such milieu. This paper highlights the entanglement between scientific internationalism, imperialism, nationalism in China in the early 20th century and the complicated process of knowledge formation at various national and personal levels.

“Pavlovianism in China: Politics and differentiation across scientific disciplines in the Maoist era,” by Zhipeng Gao. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

New Issue: Psychologia Latina

The May 2012 issue of Psychologia Latina is now online. Included in this issue are four new articles on the history of psychology. In the issue’s three Spanish language articles the work of William James (right) on brain plasticity and habit is explored, the founding of the Interamerican Society of Psychology in the mid-twentieth century is described, and the history of the Freudian concept of “track switch” is discussed. In an English language article, the 1903 meeting at which both Pavlov introduced conditioned reflexes and Ramón y Cajal introduced the neuron theory is discussed. Full titles, authors, and abstracts, in both Spanish and English, follow below.

“Plasticidad Cerebral y Hábito en William James: un Antecedente para la Neurociencia Social,” (or, “Brain Plasticity and Habit in William James: an Antecedent for Social Neuroscience”) by Carlos María Alcover and Fernando Rodríguez Mazo. The abstract reads,

William James, in the chapter on the habits of “The Principles of Psychology” (1890) introduced as a key concept of plasticity of brain and nervous system. James could not study this phenomenon experimentally, but his proposal was derived from the results of contemporary research in different fields of Biology and Physiology. Plasticity refers to how learning, skill acquisition, interpersonal and social influences and other contextual variables can influence on the physical structure of the brain, modifying and establishing new relationships and neural circuits that in turn can impair their functioning. This concept was studied experimentally in the late Twentieth Century, and it’s a key concept in the current Social Neuroscience, a discipline that seeks to combine and integrate different conceptual and methodological elements from Neuroscience and Social Psychology. This analysis has allowed us, first, to emphasize the meaning and value that James gave to the concept of plasticity in its analysis of habit, and second, to review the meaning of this concept in modern Social Neuroscience, stressing background of the James’ hypotheses in the current concept of brain plasticity. Continue reading New Issue: Psychologia Latina

Historical Films Online from Wellcome Trust

I noticed via several Twitter announcements today that the Wellcome Trust has posted 218 of their historical films online on the Internet Archive website. AHP has previously posted about the Wellcome film collection when we highlighted their 1930 Pavlovian conditioning film that was available through their catalog. This is the only film among the 218 on Internet Archive listed under the keyword “Psychology” but is certainly not the only film in the set related to the history of psychology. A few of the highlights that caught my attention: Continue reading Historical Films Online from Wellcome Trust

Pavlovian Conditioning on Film

A film from 1930 on Pavlovian conditioning has been made freely available on the Wellcome Library website. Originally made in Russian, the film was put together by Professors L. N. Voskresenki and D. S. Fursikov. The film is described as follows,

This black and white, silent film, attempts to show the difference between conditioned and unconditioned responses in animals and humans. It begins by enacting Pavlov’s experiments on a dog’s salivary mechanism. Gradually we are shown how the unconditioned production of saliva at the sight or smell of food can be conditioned to appear at the sight of a flashing light. We also examine a newborn baby’s reflexes of sucking and grabbing and see how they become conditioned as it grows older. Simple animated diagrams attempt to explain changes in the brain as a subject becomes conditioned. Professor Krasnagorski enacts a salivary test on a young boy in his laboratory. Attention is paid to the difference between instinctive behaviour in animals and learned behaviour. This is illustrated by images of animals in the wild and those in zoos. We see trained seals performing tricks for rewards and Prof. Gladishikov demonstrating ‘the pain method of training’ on lions and bears.

The film can be either viewed online or downloaded here.

Thanks to Jenn Bazar for bringing this film to my attention.